Why the LOST Finale Was NOT Awful
As you well know, my wife and I are (and have been... and will continue to be...) die-hard fans of LOST on ABC. And, as you well know, last night was the epic conclusion to a beautiful story told over the course of 6 mind-bending seasons.
The backlash to the wrap-up of the story that is LOST has been pretty straight down the middle: people either loved it, or they hated it... and it seems so far to be about a 50/50 split.
Let me offer you 3 reasons why I believe the finale was brilliant, beautiful and fitting.
1.) The "Characters" Have Always Been More Important Than the "Mysteries"
LOST has thrived on it's ability to create a cast of characters that the viewers instantly fell in love with. Over the past 6 years, we have invested ourselves emotionally in the lives (backstory, forwardstory, sidestory) of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and others. The writers primary purpose has always seemed to me to create compelling "characters" first, give them a compelling "story" second, and place them in a compelling "context" third. Last night was beautiful because it focused on giving us what was important: the characters. We got to witness the redemption and reunions of our favorite people (How could you NOT enjoy watching Jin and Sun get to see their baby? How could you remain unmoved when Charlie got to touch Claire and hold Aaron? Were you mad at your T.V. when Sawyer and Juliet planned their dutch coffee-date?). Any finale that focused more on the story and the context (the mysteries of the island) instead of the characters would have been infinitely more dissatisfying... I promise you.
2.) It is Better to Have Loved and LOST, then Never to Have Loved at All: The Sideways Reality
Say what you will about the Sideways-reality ending up being some sort of after-life experience (and yes, of course, this is important), but pause and reflect on what we SAW during that reality, and how that story line evolved. You have heard it said, "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," and I think that the Sideways-reality is potentially the best depiction of this maxim. It seems that the Sideways-reality was a picture of what the characters life "would" have been had they not ever gone to the Island (or at least what they "thought" it would have been). And for each character, there seemed a strange tension of this non-island reality being both better and worse than the island-reality. But in the end, as each character had their moment of realization, their epiphanal-moment, it was as though they realized that although the island represented years of struggle, hardship, chaos, and loss, it ALSO represented years of love, beauty, relationships, trust and redemption. Talk to people who have gone through agonizing experiences and often times you'll find that in the end they wouldn't trade that experience for anything. The highest of highs in our life are often accompanied by, or a direct result of, the lowest of lows. And for our LOST characters, the Sideways-reality gave them a gift of seeing that ultimately the time on the Island was and is a better reality than one without it. They thought they would be better off having never been to the Island, but it turns out the exact opposite is true. Also, can I just say that I don't think it was a cop-out or a lame excuse for an ending to have the Sideways-reality be some sort of "after-life" experience? Like I've said before, the whole story was heading in the direction of some sort of sci-fi/fantasy/suspension-of-belief ending. There was going to be no logical or rationale conclusion. In fact, that is sort of one of the main points of the show: science vs faith, reason vs belief. ANY ending that was to merge the Sideways-reality with the Island-reality was going to force you to suspend belief, to just go-with-it.
3.) Answers are Overrated
For those frustrated that their questions weren't answered, let me ask you: how many of your questions would have had to been answered for you to feel satisfied? 3? 5? 17? Seriously, at what point would you have been happy? If you entered the finale thinking "they better answer all my questions," weren't you already setting yourself up to be disappointed? Besides, I think answers are often less fulfilling anyways than mystery, intrigue, and imagination. Chances are, if "answers" were what you had your hopes set on, I'm willing to wager that whatever "answer" was given wouldn't have been good enough. (Also, is it possible that you DID actually get an answer to your question, but you just aren't willing to accept it? Ex. Q) What was that pool of light that supposedly harnessed some strange energy and beauty? A) It was a pool of light, harnessing energy and beauty.) I think we are so used to getting everything figured out for us (i.e. shows like CSI, NCIS, Mentalist, House, etc, give you all the answers you need at the end of 60 minutes) that we forget what it's like to be left still wondering... to be left in that place of curiosity, intrigue, confusion. This is what the Socratic-method is all about: asking questions. That's when we learn best. The writers want US to wrestle with these mysteries. They don't want to just spoon feed us. Sure, we can feel robbed when it feels like major plot points are left untouched, or inconsistencies seem un-resolved. I get it. But it boils down to a our own willingness to be okay with not-knowing. Jesus himself taught in stories that often left his hearers more confused than before. They were forced to wrestle with his coded-sayings, his cryptic stories. He would have been less effective, less compelling, and probably less interesting had he just explained everything in easy to understand ways.
In the end, I feel like the biggest questions, the ones most important to the characters themselves, were answered sufficiently and beautifully. The Finale gave us powerful and meaningful moments with the characters. The Finale gave us memorable quotes (Hurley to Ben: Dude, you were a great #2. Ben to Hurley: And you were a great #1). The Finale gave us proper reunions. The Finale gave us wonderful pictures of sacrifice (Jack resetting the pool of light) and powerful moments of redemption.
I, for one, am proud to have been a part of LOST, and I'm proud of the way Lindelof and Cuse wrapped things up.
What about you?
Were you satisfied? Frustrated? Happy, sad?
Did you love it or loathe it?
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